Controversial spectrum tax will penalise customers, operators warn; LTE distribution in limbo

12 Jun 2013

Moves to charge for the use of Guernsey’s radio spectrum could result in customers paying more, local telecoms operators have warned. According to the BBC, Commerce and Employment minister Kevin Stewart believes that local operators should pay for the resource, and its consultation on the matter ended on 3 June. Eddie Saints, chief executive of Sure Guernsey, commented: ‘We view this as an attempt by [the Department of] Commerce and Employment to introduce what is effectively a new ‘States Tax’, in order to meet some of the costs of the States’ deficit. It would directly penalise Guernsey consumers, who would end up having to pay higher prices for their telecom services’.

Echoing his concerns, Ian Campbell, CEO of rival operator Airtel-Vodafone, said: ‘This would be an additional tax specifically targeting mobile telecoms providers. While we understand the need of the government to find sources of revenue, telecoms operators already pay more tax than any other industry in Guernsey. We pay 20% tax on our profits, a further 0.5% on profits to the industry regulator, and a special tax specifically on our buildings’.

In related news, a government spokesperson clarified that ongoing discussions regarding the distribution of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) licences has been put on hold while the spectrum tax review is being carried out. No provisional time-frame has been given for the introduction of commercial 4G technology in the Channel Islands.